European Capital of Culture Wrocław 2016

As the European Capital of Culture, both during the preparations and throughout 2016, Wrocław has been telling its remarkable and tragic story – unique in comparison to other European cities – and encouraging its residents to reflect on the city’s and their own identity.

The destruction of the multicultural city during and after World War II, a total replacement of the population (German to Polish), the communist period, the subsequent struggle for freedom and democracy, the time of Solidarity, the flood of 1997, and the reconstruction and rise of the city, its growing presence in Europe, as well as innovative thinking about culture in the future, became the main themes of the year-long celebration. So we had a conversation about transformation. We asked, provoked, inspired and discussed the metamorphosis of culture – from past, through present to future.

Challenging social processes unfolding in Europe in recent years, and thus also during the project, have heightened the need for this reflection. Our activity and that of our partners focused on creating open and vibrant spaces for beauty, both material and spiritual, serving the desire to interact with art and culture, pro-social and encouraging civic attitudes. Our tool was the rich diversity characterising autonomous curators, programmes, projects, activities and ways to participate in them.

Eight curators were responsible for the artistic programme of the ECOC Wrocław 2016: Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny for music, Ewa Michnik for opera, Chris Baldwin for performance, Michał Bieniek for visual arts, Jarosław Fret for theatre, Roman Gutek for film, Irek Grin for literature and Zbigniew Maćków for architecture. They created an experimental archipelago of arts, a polyphony of people united by one project. Their programme was complemented by projects and activities prepared by the ECOC Wrocław 2016 office in the following areas:

  • The Wrocław Stage: social, educational, participatory, multidisciplinary (e.g. microGRANTS ECOC 2016, City of the Future / Laboratory Wrocław, Parks of the ECOC, Volunteering ECOC, Audience Development)
  • The Lower Silesian Stage: (e.g. Culture of Small and Medium-sized Towns)
  • The National Stage: (City Coalition for Culture)
  • The European and World Stage: (e.g. The Right to Culture, Lviv Month, cooperation with Berlin, creation of the Artist-in-Residence Programme A-i-R Wro).

The programme activity encompassed several years of preparation and the year of the celebrations itself, based on the exchange of experience and good practices, creation, partnerships, networks of international cooperation, as well as projects implemented at an unprecedented scale, transforming the city.

The programme of ECOC Wrocław 2016 consisted of over 425 projects, which resulted in over 2000 big cultural events, in 2016 only. The total number of events directly related to the ECOC Wrocław 2016 project was over 7500.

The legacy of the European Capital of Culture in Wrocław is managed by the Wrocław Institute of Culture and the Culture Zone Wrocław – institutions that continue some of the projects initiated or meaningfully developed in 2016.

Stay updated!

If you want to stay up to date with what's happening with us, sign up for our newsletter.